Memo Pad: Last Words... Back to Basics

Did Evel Knievel underestimate his own resilience? Knievel, who died Friday at age 69, has been slipping away for years...

The last time Bon Appétit changed its logo was 17 years ago. Now, with the help of design director Matthew Lenning, hired from GQ in the spring, it's pushing its "accessibility" and its "sophisticated but not intimidating" qualities. Bon Appétit's Web site will also be relaunched, though the timing is still being determined.

Beyond the logo, the magazine will begin catering to a younger audience with more how-to. "The younger reader needs to know the techniques," said Fairchild. "We're going back to step by step."

This year's 8.4 percent ad page increase over 2006 brings Bon Appétit safely over the 1,000-page mark commonly used to gauge profitability from the outside, to 1,040.4. (Both Bon Appétit and WWD are owned by Condé Nast Publications Inc.) Newsstand circulation faltered a bit in the first half, down 12 percent to 119,411, though July through September newsstand sales were slightly up. Total circulation is 1.37 million.

The magazine is hoping its average reader age — like most other epicurean titles, hovering around 50 — will drop as a result of the nip and tuck. The younger demographic isn't currently being served by a major national magazine, Fairchild said, except for possibly Every Day with Rachael Ray. "The value of someone like Rachael Ray is getting young people to pick up a magazine," said Fairchild. "And when they want to upgrade, they can pick up Bon Appétit."

As for the other magazines in the category, Fairchild said, "We are about the pleasure. We're not Cooking Light, which is about fear: What can I eat without killing myself? We're not Martha Stewart's Every Day Food...that's not how I want to live my life. And Food & Wine is really about New York chefs and restaurants. Our reach has always been extremely broad." What about corporate sibling Gourmet? Fairchild grinned. "I already said Gourmet, didn't I?" She had not. "We're the one in the kitchen," she said. "Gourmet is doing a campaign about food for thought. Thinking is fine, but for us it's about getting in the kitchen — it's about the passion."
— Irin Carmon
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